Russia Scheduled to Celebrate Annexation of Ukrainian Territories

On the day that Russia is set to celebrate its annexation of four Ukrainian territories, a humanitarian convoy was hit by Russian shelling near the town of Zaporizhzhia.

Officials say at least 23 people were killed in the incident and 28 people were wounded.  The convoy was headed to the area to rescue family members from the occupied territory.

Russia is set to formally announce annexation of four Ukrainian territories — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — on Friday. The Kremlin is to mark what many view as an illegal move with celebratory concerts and rallies in Moscow.

Meanwhile, Finland is the latest country to close its border to Russians. The Finland closing comes as hordes of Russian men are leaving the country to escape Russia’s military mobilization for continuing the invasion of Ukraine. In addition, Russia has begun opening draft offices at its borders to intercept men who may be leaving the country to avoid the mobilization.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the planned annexation, saying it is illegal and “must not be accepted.”

“The U.N. Charter is clear,” Guterres told reporters Thursday. “Any annexation of a state’s territory by another state resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the principles of the U.N. Charter and international law.”

He said any decision to proceed with the annexation would have “no legal value and deserves to be condemned.”

The move has been dismissed as illegitimate by Ukraine and its allies, who are readying new sanctions against Moscow in response.

“This can still be stopped,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in in his daily address Thursday in a direct appeal to Russians with an indirect reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “But to stop it, you have to stop that one in Russia who wants war more than life. Your life, citizens of Russia.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday’s ceremony will include Putin, who is to make a major speech, and the Russian-appointed heads of the regions, where the Russian orchestrated referendums ended earlier this week.

U.N. chief Guterres said Thursday, “I want to underscore that the so-called referenda in the occupied regions were conducted during active armed conflict, in areas under Russian occupation, and outside Ukraine’s legal and constitutional framework. They cannot be called a genuine expression of the popular will.”

He warned that if Russia goes ahead with the annexation, it will be a “dangerous escalation” and will further jeopardize the prospect for peace.

“It is high time to step back from the brink,” Guterres said.

Guterres’ spokesperson said the U.N. chief had conveyed this message to the Russians when he spoke with their U.N. ambassador Wednesday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz tweeted Thursday that he assured Zelenskyy that Germany will never recognize the “so-called results.”

“The sham referendums carried out by Putin in the illegally occupied areas of Ukraine are worthless,” Scholz said.

In Washington, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal spoke about proposed legislation he and Republican Senator Lindsay Graham are supporting in response to Russia’s latest moves.

“Senator Graham and I are introducing today legislation that would very simply immediately require cutting off economic and military aid to any country that recognizes Vladimir Putin’s illegal annexation of four regions of Ukraine,” he said Thursday.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday that no matter what Russia says, the areas remain Ukrainian territory.

“In response, we will work with our allies and partners to impose additional economic costs on Russia and individuals and entities inside and outside of Russia that provide support to this action,” she said.

At the U.N. Security Council, the United States is working with Albania on a draft resolution condemning the “sham referenda,” calling on states not to recognize any altered status of Ukraine and compelling Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

Russia will certainly use its veto to block the measure, but that will then allow member states to move to the General Assembly to seek condemnation there. A similar strategy following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea drew the rebuke of 100 countries.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday the EU is planning to respond with “sweeping new import bans on Russian products” and to expand its export ban “to deprive the Kremlin’s military complex of key technologies.”

“This will keep Russian products out of the European market and deprive Russia of an additional 7 billion euros in revenue,” von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels. The EU’s 27 member countries would have to approve the sanctions for them to take effect and the bloc has had difficulty in reaching agreement on some previous sanctions.

“We are determined to make the Kremlin pay for this further escalation,” she said.

The Ukrainian territory Russia wants to annex represents about 15% of the country.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

your ad here

Italy’s New Government to Take Different Position on China

Italy has elected its most right-wing government since the end of World War II, and China watchers are anticipating a different type of relationship between Giorgia Meloni, in position to become Italy’s next prime minister, and Beijing based on her comments about Taiwan during her campaign.

Diplomatic issues in Asia are not usually the focus of political debate in Italian elections, but analysts noted that before the election, Meloni made a rare statement on Taiwan, voicing opposition to China’s military threats to the island. She also said she would promote bilateral contacts between Italy and Taiwan, something Beijing strongly opposes.

In July, Meloni posted on Twitter a pre-election statement on Taiwan. The post showed a photo of her and Taiwan’s representative in Italy, Andrea Lee Sing-ying. Meloni called Lee an ambassador.  The tweet continued by saying she “always stands alongside those who believe in the values of freedom and democracy.”

Taiwan and Italy do not have formal diplomatic relations. Like many other nations, Italy has diplomatic relations with China. Beijing claims democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and bristles at any official contacts between Taipei and other nations.

Last week, in an interview with Taiwan’s official Central News Agency, Meloni said the party that she leads, the Brothers of Italy, would join democratic countries in condemning China’s military threat to Taiwan and that the European Union should use all of its diplomatic and political means to exert pressure to avoid conflicts in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan as bridge

Meloni also noted she would deepen exchanges with Taiwan in culture, tourism, public health, scientific research and the semiconductor industry, despite differences in political philosophies with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Meloni did not specify in which areas she differed with Tsai’s philosophies. Tsai is Taiwan’s first female president, and Meloni is set to become Italy’s first female prime minister, but it is widely known that Tsai supports same-sex marriage, something Meloni opposes.

At a regular briefing this week, China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin voiced confidence that ties with Italy would remain strong but urged “certain individuals” in Italy to recognize the “highly sensitive nature” of what Beijing calls the “Taiwan question.”

“The Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair, which brooks no foreign interference,” Wang said. He also cautioned against “sending wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces.”

Guido Alberto Casanova, an associate researcher at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, told VOA Mandarin that as a nationalist, from Italy’s far-right, Meloni’s adversarial position on China speaks to the need to protect the interest of Italian industries from Chinese takeovers. But her position is also aimed at building up her international credibility, he said.

“She has a very controversial background. She comes from a post-fascist era of Italian politics; she was mutating in the far right. … So, she needs to calm people both in Europe and the United States,” he said, speaking with VOA in a phone interview.

“The hot issue, in the United States, at least, is the defense of democracy and human rights. Taiwan, of course, is the key. That’s why she needs to present herself as in solidarity with the American support for Taiwan, because she needs to win approval,” he said.

Belt and Road in the balance?

The Italian government has long had friendly relations with Beijing and has rarely spoken out on China issues. Chinese state media reports on Italy have mostly been positive.

However, the changes in Italy’s political landscape and the dramatic shift in opinion toward China globally, as well as among Italian citizens, could have an effect on relations between Rome and Beijing, analysts said.

One area in question under the new leadership is China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global infrastructure project that Italy has previously supported.

Italy is the only G-7 country to have signed a memorandum of understanding with China on the BRI. It was signed by then-Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and China’s President Xi Jinping during the Chinese leader’s visit to Italy in 2019. The document is valid for five years and will remain in force if there are no objections from either side.

The Italian government had hoped the deal with Beijing would boost Italian exports to China. However, some observers said China was more interested in building infrastructure in the country and buying up companies than boosting trade. For her part, Meloni has already voiced skepticism and called the signing of the agreement with China a huge mistake.

“If the memorandum is renewed tomorrow, I hardly see the right political conditions,” she said in a September 23 interview with Taiwan’s state Central News Agency.

Francesco Sisci, a longtime political analyst of China affairs and a visiting professor at LUISS University in Rome, told VOA Mandarin that the BRI had practically stopped in Italy.

“The Italian government has promised a lot but very little has been carried out – in fact, almost zero. The memorandum is completely empty,” Sisci told VOA in a phone interview. “The Belt and Road Memorandum is a failure for both Italy and China. Both sides had a big misunderstanding, so the document should not have been signed.”

While Meloni is expected to become the next prime minister of Italy, it will take weeks for the new Italian government to be formed.

Bo Gu contributed to this report.

your ad here

US Charges Russian Oligarch Deripaska with Sanctions Evasion

The Justice Department on Thursday unsealed an indictment charging Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and three associates with violating U.S. sanctions.

The indictment grew out of Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement group formed in the wake of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion to enforce the sweeping economic sanctions, export restrictions and other measures the United States and its Western allies imposed on Moscow.

“In the wake of Russia’s unjust and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, I promised the American people that the Justice Department would work to hold accountable those who break our laws and threaten our national security. Today’s charges demonstrate we are keeping that promise,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

Along with Deripaska, 52, the indictment charged two other Russian nationals — Natalia Mikhaylovna Bardakova, 45, and Ekaterina Olegovna Voronina, 33 — as well as Olga Shriki, 42, a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Bardakova and Shriki face charges of flouting sanctions imposed on Deripaska and one of Deripaska’s companies, Basic Element Limited.

Shriki, who was arrested Thursday morning, is also charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly deleting electronic records related to her role in Deripaska’s alleged sanctions evasion scheme after receiving a grand jury subpoena to produce the records.

Voronina is accused of making false statements to agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security when she sought to enter the United States to give birth to Deripaska’s child, according to the Justice Department.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned  Deripaska and several other Russian oligarchs and entities in 2018 in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as other malign global activities.

As part of the sanctions, the Russian oligarchs’ assets were frozen, and U.S. nationals were barred from doing business with them.

In the wake of the Treasury Department’s action, however, Deripaska conspired with others “to evade and to violate those sanctions in various ways and over the course of several years,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

Through a company known as Gracetown Inc., the Russian billionaire allegedly used the U.S. financial system to maintain three luxury properties in the United States, the indictment alleges.

According to the document, Deripaska allegedly hired Shriki and Bardakova to use U.S. banks to conduct hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of services on his behalf.

In 2019, Shriki allegedly helped Deripaska sell a California music studio he had owned through a series of shell companies, according to the indictment.

Deripaska then allegedly tried to transfer the more than $3 million in proceeds from the sale through a California shell company to an account in Russia, the indictment alleges.

In a statement, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the indictment “reflects the FBI’s commitment to use all of the tools at our disposal to aggressively pursue those who attempt to evade the United States’ economic countermeasures against the Russian government.”

“We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who violate measures imposed to protect the national security and foreign policy of the United States, especially in this time of Russia’s unprovoked aggression toward Ukraine,” Wray said.   

your ad here

Azerbaijan President Signs Off on Media Registry Rules

Azerbaijan’s president this week approved the rules that will govern a media registry that the country’s journalists warn could further stifle press freedom. 

President Ilham Aliyev on Monday signed off on the “rules for maintaining a media registry” — a set of regulations around media credentials and official recognition that would provide approved media with privileges and benefits, such as accreditation to state and other bodies.  

The rules lay out how the registry will work, the requirements journalists must meet to be eligible for inclusion, what data will be publicly available, and what conditions can result in being excluded or removed from the database.  

The government-run Media Development Agency will oversee the registry and legal entities, and each individual included in it will be issued a certificate and journalistic license.  

Zahid Oruj, chair of the Human Rights Committee of the National Assembly, told VOA that the adoption of the rules is to “continue the will for the formation of free, independent and strong press agencies that was outlined in the new power-building policy that has been implemented since 2019.” 

Journalists, however, have criticized the plan since parliament first passed the law in December 2021. They warn it could allow Azerbaijan’s government to determine who is recognized as a journalist and cited concerns that the registry will include details on reporters and their work contacts.  

Media outlets that operate in exile will also be affected, including through provisions that ban disseminating information from unofficial sources, rights groups including Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.

Mehman Aliyev, director of the independent Turan News Agency, said independent media already work under restrictive policies and that access to information is difficult. 

Instead of improving access to information, Aliyev believes the new media registry will restrict freedoms.  

 “It is intended to prevent establishment of new media agencies in the future and to create conditions for media outlets that are in the interests of the authorities,” Aliyev said. 

Without an official license, journalists could find it harder to gain access to officials or events.  

Lawyer and media rights expert Alasgar Mammadli said the registry would make it hard for many freelance journalists to obtain the information they need. 

“I believe that keeping [a] journalist registry is an interference with media freedom,” he told VOA. 

Mammadli believes the registry goes against protections for freedom of expression, as laid out in Azerbaijan’s constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. 

“According to the constitution, everyone can receive information. In other words, it is not important whether you have a title of a journalist in front of your name, or whether or not you are a state-qualified journalist,” he told VOA. “In the future, any dispute related to this will result in the European Court making a decision against Azerbaijan.” 

Criticism rejected

But Azerbaijani officials have dismissed that criticism. 

Oruj said journalists not on the register would still be able to work.  

“Being included in this registry only gives advantages and makes it possible to benefit from various privileges, some subsidies, state measures,” Oruj said. 

RSF said nearly all Azerbaijani media are under government control. The few remaining independent voices find access to information difficult and say that some government agencies refuse to engage with them, according to the organization.  

RSF ranks Azerbaijan 154th out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index, where 1 signifies the best media environment.

This story originated in VOA’s Azerbaijani Service.

your ad here

NATO Vows Retaliation for Attacks on Infrastructure, Blames Sabotage for Pipe Blasts 

NATO vowed retaliation Thursday for attacks on the critical infrastructure of its 30 member nations, while strongly suggesting the rupture of two Baltic Sea pipelines meant to send natural gas from Russia to Germany was the direct result of sabotage.

Ambassadors to NATO, the West’s key military alliance, said in a statement, “Any deliberate attack against allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with a united and determined response.” They said four ruptures in the pipelines were of “deep concern.”

NATO did not accuse anyone of damaging the pipelines but said that “all currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage. These leaks are causing risks to shipping and substantial environmental damage.”

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that the ruptures in the Nord Stream pipelines would not have been possible without a state actor’s involvement.

“It looks like a terror attack, probably conducted on a state level,” Peskov told reporters.  Russian President Vladimir Putin later told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that “international terrorism” was to blame.

“Judging by the amount of destruction of the Nord Stream, it’s hard to imagine that such action could have been taken without a state involvement,” Peskov said. “It’s a very dangerous situation that requires a quick investigation.”

Some European officials and energy experts have suggested that Russia likely carried out the attacks, to benefit from higher energy prices and to create more economic chaos in Europe for its support of Ukraine in fending off Russia’s seven-month invasion. But other officials urged caution in assessing blame until investigators determine what happened.

Peskov characterized media reports about Russian warships being spotted in the area of the damaged pipelines as “stupid and biased,” adding that “many more aircraft and vessels belonging to NATO countries have been spotted in the area.”

The Swedish Coast Guard confirmed a fourth leak on the Nord Stream pipelines off southern Sweden.

“We have leakage at two positions” off Sweden, coast guard spokesperson Mattias Lindholm said, with two more off Denmark.

Two of the leaks are on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, where the flow of gas was recently halted, while the other two are on Nord Stream 2, which has never been opened. Although they weren’t running, both pipelines were filled with methane gas, which has escaped and is bubbling to the surface, probably until Sunday, according to energy experts.

The Danish and Swedish governments said they believed the leaks off their shores were the result of “deliberate actions.”

Before the leaks became obvious, explosions were recorded. Swedish seismologists recorded a first explosion early Monday southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm, with a second, stronger blast northeast of the island that night, one that was equivalent to a magnitude 2.3 earthquake. Danish, Norwegian and Finnish seismic stations also registered the explosions.

your ad here

Turkey Cracks Down on Pop Music as Elections Loom

Turkish pop star Gulsen faces jail as a crackdown on popular music broadens. Some see the crackdown as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempt to court his religious base as elections loom and young people voice dissatisfaction with the economy. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.

your ad here

Vatican Sanctions Nobel Laureate After Timor Accusations

The Vatican said Thursday it had imposed disciplinary sanctions on Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo in the past two years, following allegations that he sexually abused boys in East Timor during the 1990s.

The Vatican admission came a day after a Dutch magazine, De Groene Amsterdammer, exposed the claims against the revered East Timor independence hero, citing two of Belo’s alleged victims and reporting there were others who hadn’t come forward in East Timor, where the Catholic Church wields enormous influence.

Spokesman Matteo Bruni said the Vatican office that handles sex abuse cases received allegations “concerning the bishop’s behavior” in 2019 and within a year had imposed the restrictions. They included limitations on Belo’s movements and his exercise of ministry, and prohibited him from having voluntary contact with minors or contact with East Timor.

In a statement, Bruni said the sanctions were “modified and reinforced” in November 2021 and that Belo had formally accepted the punishment on both occasions.

The Vatican provided no explanation for why Belo resigned as head of the Roman Catholic church in East Timor two decades early in 2002, and was sent to Mozambique, where he was allowed to work with children.

News of Belo’s behavior sent shock waves through the heavily Catholic, impoverished Southeast Asian nation, where he is a regarded as a hero for fighting to win East Timor’s independence from Indonesian rule.

“We are here also in shock to hear this news,” an official at the archdiocese of Dili in East Timor said Thursday, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Neither the Nobel Committee nor the United Nations immediately responded to requests for comment.

De Groene Amsterdammer said two alleged victims, identified only as Paulo and Roberto, reported being abused by Belo and said other boys were also victims. It said its investigation showed that Belo’s abuse was known to the East Timorese government and to humanitarian and church workers.

“The bishop raped and sexually abused me that night,” Roberto was quoted as telling the magazine. “Early in the morning he sent me away. I was afraid because it was still dark. So I had to wait before I could go home. He also left money for me. That was meant so that I would keep my mouth shut. And to make sure I would come back.”

Belo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 with fellow East Timorese independence icon Jose Ramos-Horta for campaigning for a fair and peaceful solution to conflict in their home country as it struggled to gain independence from Indonesia, a former Dutch colony.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, in its citation, praised Belo’s courage in refusing to be intimidated by Indonesian forces. The committee noted that while trying to get the United Nations to arrange a plebiscite for East Timor, he smuggled out two witnesses to a bloody 1991 massacre so they could testify to the U.N. human rights commission in Geneva.

Ramos-Horta went on to become president of East Timor, a former Portuguese colony. Upon his return Thursday from the United States, where he addressed the U.N. General Assembly, Ramos-Horta was asked about the allegations against his co-Nobel laureate and deferred to the Vatican.

“I prefer to await further action from the Holy See,” he said.

Belo, who was believed to be living in Portugal, didn’t respond when reached by telephone by Radio Renascença, the private broadcaster of the Portuguese church.

Belo is a priest of the Salesians of Don Bosco, a Roman Catholic religious order that has long had influence at the Vatican. The Portuguese branch of the Salesians said Thursday that it learned “with great sadness and astonishment” of the news.

The branch distanced itself from Belo, saying he hadn’t been linked to the order since he took charge in East Timor. However, Belo is still listed in the 2021 Vatican yearbook by his Salesian initials “SDB” at the end of his name.

“As regards issues covered in the news, we have no knowledge that would allow us to comment,” the Salesian statement said.

It said the Portuguese Salesians took Belo in at the request of their superiors after he left East Timor in 2002 and because he was highly regarded, but said he had done no pastoral work in Portugal.

The Dutch magazine said its research indicated that Belo also abused boys in the 1980s before he became a bishop when he worked at an education center run by the Salesians.

Paulo, now 42, told the Dutch magazine he was abused once by Belo at the bishop’s residence in East Timor’s capital, Dili. He asked to remain anonymous.

“for the privacy and safety of himself and his family,” the magazine said.

“I thought: this is disgusting. I won’t go there anymore,” the magazine quoted him as saying.

Roberto, who also asked to remain anonymous, said he was abused more often, starting when he was about 14 after a religious celebration in his hometown. Roberto later moved to Dili, where the alleged abuse continued at the bishop’s residence, the Dutch magazine reported.

It is unclear whether or when any alleged victims ever came forward to local church, law enforcement or Vatican authorities.

St. John Paul II accepted Belo’s resignation as apostolic administrator of Dili on Nov. 26, 2002, when he was 54. The Vatican announcement at the time cited canon law that allows bishops under 75 to retire for health reasons or for some other “grave” reasons that make them unable to continue.

In 2005, Belo told UCANews, a Catholic news agency, that he resigned because of stress and poor health.

Belo had no other episcopal career after that, and Groene Amsterdammer said he moved to Mozambique and worked as a priest there.

Belo told UCANews he moved to Mozambique after consulting with the head of the Vatican’s missionary office, Cardinal Cresenzio Sepe, and agreed to work there for a year before returning to East Timor.

Efforts to reach Sepe, who is now retired, were not successful.

By 2002, when Belo retired as head of the church in East Timor, the sex abuse scandal had just exploded publicly in the United States and the Vatican had just begun to crack down on abusive priests, requiring all cases of abuse to be sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith for review.

Bishops, however, were exempted from that requirement. Only in 2019 did Pope Francis pass a church law requiring abuse and sexual misconduct against bishops to be reported internally, and providing a mechanism to investigate the claims.

It is possible that Belo’s sexual activity with teens might have been dismissed by the Vatican in the early 2000s if it involved 16- or 17-year-olds, since the Vatican in those years considered such activity to be sinful but consensual, not abuse. Only in 2010 did the Vatican raise the age of consent to 18.

Belo is not the only church official in East Timor accused of abuse. A defrocked American priest, Richard Daschbach, was found guilty last year by a Dili court of sexually abusing orphaned and disadvantaged young girls under his care and was sentenced to 12 years in prison, the first such case of its kind in the country.

your ad here

Pentagon Announces $1.1 Billion More in Military Aid for Ukraine

The Pentagon is providing an additional $1.1 billion in aid to Ukraine, bringing the total U.S. military assistance to nearly $17 billion since the Biden administration took office.

The latest package includes funding for 18 more High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and their ammunition, weapons that U.S. defense officials say have proven highly effective in helping Ukraine defend its territory since Russia invaded the country in February. 

The U.S. has already provided Ukraine with 16 HIMARS, and a senior defense official  told reporters Wednesday that the Biden administration was starting the procurement process for the next 18 because they would take “years” to procure, build and deliver.

The latest package funds the procurement of weapons and equipment under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which funds contracts focused on Ukraine’s long-term defense and security needs.

Other weapons and equipment in the $1.1 billion package will take anywhere from two months to two years to deliver to Ukraine, according to the senior defense official. Those include systems to counter drones that Russia has been using against Ukrainian troops, 22 radars, about 150 Humvees, about 150 tactical vehicles for towing weapons, dozens of trucks and trailers, body armor, and equipment for communications, surveillance, and explosives disposal.

Maintenance and training are also funded in this package.

Russian forces have used Iranian-made drones to target Ukrainian forces, according to the Pentagon, prompting a need to counter these weapons.

The Pentagon has used its presidential drawdown authority to provide weapons more rapidly, and officials say another announcement for Defense Department aid is expected soon.

Also Wednesday, a senior military official] said the U.S. has seen “small numbers” of the first reservists from Russia’s latest mobilization move into Ukraine. Russia has announced plans to call up about 300,000 men to fight in Ukraine amid heavy battlefield losses.

Tens of thousands of Russian men have fled the country to border nations since the mobilization was announced. 

your ad here